It’s tough isn’t it?
You know more than your boss, you do superb work, you hit the numbers, beat the budget, exceed the plan. You do everything asked of you and even what isn’t. You come in early, you work late, you speak up at meetings, you have more ideas in your head than any of your colleagues and yet….
Your boss doesn’t love you. You can tell. He laughs at someone else’s jokes. She spends more time with other key producers. He’s always nodding when someone else speaks. She’s having side bar conversations, but not with you.
And you’re losing more and more respect for the boss. Truth is, you always had your doubts about them. Wasn’t sure they were the best or the smartest or the most deserving. And now that they’re slighting you? Well, now you know you were right.
Wrong. Wrong. WRONG.
Like it or not, your boss has the keys to the kingdom. They are the biggest influence on your promotional readiness, on who gets visibility and recognition – on who succeeds. No matter if you resent them, dislike them or merely envy them, you have to accept that the power structure is what it is. And they have more power than you do.
But that doesn’t make you subservient, and it doesn’t mean that you have to flush away your integrity and pride to be successful in managing your boss. But you do have to shift your attitude, your strategy and your behavior if you want to be your boss’s #1.
- Quick – name your boss’s number one priority. Now, just as quick, what’s yours? Why isn’t it the same? If it is, bravo – now list the three things you’re doing all the time to achieve it. If not – go back to GO. And no $200 until you change.
- Embrace boosterism. My first boss after b-school scolded me about my lack luster performance. “I’ll show her” I thought, and began sending weekly updates every Friday. “Nancy, I’m so impressed” she said after a month “You really took our conversation to heart and turned it around”. I thought she was an idiot for not having seen that I was simply reporting what I had always been doing. It took me years to realize that I was the idiot for never letting her know what I was accomplishing.
- Focus on the output not the process. Your boss does not want to hear how much you’ve done. Or how hard you’re working. He wants to know what came of it. Report results, outcomes, benefits, deltas – and don’t complain. If you need more resources, make the business case for what will happen if you get them.
- Treat them like a guru. You want to be loved? Me too. And I’m flattered when people ask me for my advice. So is your boss. They know something you don’t or they wouldn’t have that job. Make it a practice to treat her as a de facto mentor. Ask questions you’re curious about or struggling with or want to test out. And if you bring them a problem, be sure they like to solve them. And naturally be prepared to discuss the resolutions you’ve identified and rejected and why.
- Treat them like a customer. Maybe they aren’t the guru type. Okay, so what do they like? Recaps of no more than five bullets? Brain storming group sessions? After hours socializing? Frequent emails? You may not be able to satisfy all their preferred needs but I’ll bet you can do more than you’re doing now. Take a look at who the current class pet – what does that person do differently than you? And analyze it while suspending character judgments – what can you learn?
- Don’t be afraid to ask. Our biggest obstacle is our dread. And what you don’t know can definitely hurt you. So swallow pride and all the other seven deadly sins by stepping up to say: “How can I support you more? What would you like to see me focus more on? Less on?” Not only will your boss be pleased but you’ll have slayed a dragon within.